By Tom Humberstone
Ellipsis is Tom Humberstone’s first post Solipsistic Pop endeavour, a six-issue comic series of standalone yet connected short stories. What you can’t make out from that scan of the cover is the top-notch packaging (as you would expect from Humberstone); the circle is actually a cut out to the title page, and may be a reference to the circularity of the internal tale.
This one is his teen airport tale; 22-pages of a travelling teen contemplating her life as she jets back into the UK, musing on airport society, and the people around her as she stands on the cusp of the next stage in her life.
The airport as metaphor for transition, for change, for emotional moments… it’s all a little Love Actually really.
In fact, there’s a moment very early on, and way before that page above where Humberstone references the Richard Curtis Love Actually bit concerning airports, almost as if he knew it would be brought up this way.
Like Humberstone (and like Curtis) I’m completely there with the ideas of airports being wonderful places, full of potential for wonder, full of every possible emotion, accentuated and accelerated.
And I can see just where Humberstone is coming from here, a travelling teen, returning to the UK, wondering where her life will go next, scared, excited, and everything in between, avoiding reality by staying in her traveller’s bubble. She’s doing the thing most enjoyable at an airport; watching the world go by, sharing their experiences, making up their back-stories, and Humberstone captures it all so nicely, even down to the smoker’s thing of stepping beyond the bubble, into a smoker’s exclusion zone, where we make easy comrades amongst the lepers (actually, it should read “they make easy comrades” ….. dammit, I miss that bit of it).
The thing is, I’d love to love Ellipsis, I really would. The art isn’t the problem – Humberstone’s heavy toned inks may at times be trying to mask some problems with characters but I still do like his stuff. And the concept of Ellipsis certainly appeals to me; a mood piece, thoughtful, melancholic, introspective, a reflective pause before the girl finally leaves the comfort blanket surroundings of the airport, protecting her from facing up to the next stage of her life, allowing her to stave off the prospect of adulthood a little longer.
But it all rests on the voice delivering the internal monologue, thinking aloud, reaching for the 18-year old perspective. It’s the sort of thing I thought Humberstone absolutely nailed with his How To Date a Girl In Ten Days, where he completely got inside the head of an early 20-something. But sadly, he’s just not got it quite right for me in Ellipsis. There’s simply not enough melancholy, not enough reflection. It fair races along, and trying to get so much into 22-pages, two airports and the flight inbetween, means there’s not enough time to simply sit and observe.
In truth, it would have been so much better at double the size and half the speed.